Last week we noted that the Servant Songs of Isaiah serve not only as descriptions of the ministry of our Lord and Savior but also, frequently, as commissions for us. The character of our Lord is to be lived out in the life of His people.
But perhaps we have gotten ahead of ourselves? Did the New Testament really think that these Servant Songs with their lavish promises were being fulfilled through Jesus? Perhaps these things weren’t going to be fulfilled for many years yet to come. It is this suggestion that Paul’s words today completely undermine. He has just finished discussing the purpose of the death of Jesus. God made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. And so God is urging us, through His preachers, through His Church – be reconciled to God. Paul concludes this thought with our words today –
We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive thePaul urges His audience not to delay in calling upon the Lord to save them, to deliver them. They were not to be distracted by the deceitfulness of sin or by the winsome words of others but rather to trust in the Lord and believe His Word. To prove His point, Paul quotes from one of the Servant Songs. “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
grace of God in vain.
The questions this raises are who is “I” and who is “you”? The answers are that “I” is God and “you” is the Servant of the Lord. Listen to the passage:
Isaiah 49:8 (NKJV)8 Thus says the Lord: “In an acceptable time I have heard You, And in the day of salvation I have helped You; I will preserve You and give You As a covenant to the people, To restore the earth, To cause them to inherit the desolate heritages; that you may say to the prisoners, ‘Go forth,’ to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves.’”So the question we posed at the beginning was this – does the New Testament teach that these lavish promises of restoring the earth, of rescuing prisoners and giving sight to the blind, are being fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus? Well what does Paul declare in our text today?
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.The long promised restoration from exile is upon us. God has acted to deliver His people from their sin; He has lifted up the cross as a standard to the nations and is, by His Spirit, drawing all men to it. And so the call to us is the same – don’t miss out. Don’t miss God’s call and fail to join ranks with His people. He is remaking the world through His Christ – will you be part of this new world of life and joy or will you continue to dwell in the old world of death and war?
Reminded that we often fail to keep the contrast between the world that God has introduced in Christ and the world as it once existed in death; reminded that we too often coddle our sins, coddle the path of death; let us kneel and confess our sin to the Lord.